In 2012, I remember reading and writing the word “turtling” a lot to describe Iowa’s offense. When saying that word out loud, one’s tongue curls up and attempts to choke you to death—not unlike how Iowa’s offense effectively shot itself in the foot yesterday. There were fingerprints of that 2012 season all over Iowa’s offense (and defense for that matter) against the Bison, and that obviously doesn’t bode well for things to come this year.
You could say this game was a wakeup call for Iowa’s players and coaching staff, but unfortunately this team didn’t need that. This Iowa team wasn’t supposed to be the one that answered such calls. It was supposed to be the team that knocks.
Last year, Iowa finds a way to win this game. Last year, the coaches at least give it a fighting chance with the playcalling. Everyone across the board seemed all too content with this outcome.
However, I also believe it’s not fair to pin the blame on any one player here. If Jerminic Smith and Akrum Wadley catch the football, we might not be having this conversation. If George Kittle doesn’t get called for holding, we almost certainly aren’t having this conversation. If C.J. Beathard isn’t sacked four times and the offensive line decides to show up the ship may remain afloat.
All this is to say anything without giving credit to NDSU. The Bison would compete for the Big Ten West this year, FCS status be damned. The Associated Press sent an E-mail to AP voters saying NDSU is eligible for the AP Poll, because so many voters asked if they could cast a ballot for the Bison. Does any of that make this pill easier to swallow? No.
All we can hope for is that this game comes as a learning experience. One could ask why a coach such as Ferentz, who has been around the block once or twice put himself in a position to take a lesson from an FCS team, and that’s a fair criticism. It’s tempting to look at that contract, its buyout and then hit the bottle, but that’s a copout. A piece of paper didn’t influence how this team played, nor did it influence how this game was coached.
What concerns me the most, is that after watching Michigan, Nebraska, Alabama and even sort of Notre Dame fall into sizable deficits early in their games yesterday, I don’t think Iowa has the capability of climbing out of a hole. Especially not with the offense we saw yesterday. This is a team built to protect a lead, and it’s frightening to see it react when it’s in a hole.
It’s still important to note that this loss doesn’t really matter all that much. Yeah, it would be awesome to not lose to inferior opponents while Ohio State and Nebraska and Michigan took care of business on the same day, but the West is still very much Iowa’s to lose, and I’m less concerned about Wisconsin after they squeaked out a win against Georgia Southern.
Let’s just take a deep breath, hope Kirk accidentally grabbed his playbook from 2012 when heading to Kinnick yesterday, and see how this team responds to the first kick to the groin of the season.